Looking for partners- fiordland off-route
Hey, I’m planning to do some off route tramping in the Fiordland area (inspired by moir’s guide south ) such as lake quill, light and dark valley, te au tops and others. Looking for partner/s who has experience in Backdoor tramping and would like to go for an adventure. I’m 30 years old and here for 5 more months ( until end of April) . Cheers! :-)
read about a couple of rescues down there, people caught out by flash flooding and had to climb trees to get away from it
@Honora Coming out of the Stillwater is a battle. From memory it took us about 3 hours to cover less than a horizontal kilometer (about 200m vertical gain as well). We did make it through to Thomson Hut that day though so sped up from there. This was not our toughest day, though. On day 3 we couldn't find the route on to Overlander Ridge so we ended up back tracking to Overlander Stream and camping just above the bluffs you can see near the mouth. For the day we made less than 2 topo map squares from George Sound Hut. For the whole trip I think we covered 70km in 7 days and about 20km of that would have come on day 2 when we went from Thomson Hut to George Sound.
The bit that puzzled me was the route onto overlander spur from george sound. All that stuff in Moirs about a route up 200m after the gulch / peninsula by the small island. But at that point there are sheer bluffs 20m above the shore. If you could get maybe 400m along the shore from the island then the moirs route seemed to work diagonally up a weakness in the bluffs - but it'd mean a lot of swimming to get there even at low tide. Ended up climbing a diagonal cutting back towards overlander stream and taking every chance to cut up through weaknesses in the several bands of bluffs. One of which involved a very dodgy 10m sequence of moves relying on feeble shallow rooted vegetation with no protection. No fun - but every day in Fiordland seemed to involve at least one of these limit-of-acceptable-risk moments. And all those probabilities add up! The other thing that nearly got me was linz maps showing the stream draining the overlander saddle being Ethne Stream dropping south (improbably traversing the face) into the Stillwater. Which it decidedly doesn't do - it swings north and drops in a series of huge waterfalls into South West Arm - starting just below where the old permolat marker indicates the sidle to Ethne Saddle. Could cause some very dangerous mistakes that one! Was a long hard day George Sound to Stillwater swingbridge with heavy rain the forecast next day which was bound to make the river crossing at the old bridge site impossible for a few days if I didnt get there that day. River came up about 4m that night as it turned out. But then they all were long hard days.
Glad I am not the only one who could not figure out the Overlander Ridge route. Sounds like we did exactly like you @Madpom. However, after taking that diagonal sidle along the base of the bluffs towards Overlander Stream and seeing no obvious weaknesses to cut back through I figured "bugger it" and dropped back to the sea. We spent a couple of hours fishing then headed back to the stream. I don't know if you want to hear this but Overlander Stream was really easy travelling... There was a band of 5-10m high bluffs exactly where you would think from the topo map but managed to climb them via a sizable tree growing horizontally that I could just jump up and grab. We passed packs up there and I pulled the others up. The rest of the stream was simple going until it petered out before the saddle. I am sure we stayed pretty much in the creek the whole way. You are right Ethene Stream is not as it appears and you would not want to wander off the end of it! I am assuming you traveled down the stream as far as the permalot marker? I don't even know if there is another feasible route. The stream would not be a route you could use in bad weather judging by some of the debris hung up in it so wonder how often it is even feasible.
Yep. Headed down the stream to the marker then sidled left. Found no new markers so tried to sidle-drop parallel to the stream as-per-map before realising the map was wrong. Bit of a scramble back up to correct line to saddle.
Is that erroneously marked stream traversing the head of that valley actually the recommended line of travel across the valley head to Ethne Saddle I wonder. Perhaps some dude had that marked as the recommended direction of travel and the cartographers thought that was marking the stream's direction. Fiordland hanging valleys are not known for having streams meandering across heads of valleys! They would be less scenic e.g. Bowen Falls. I see on my online NZ Topomap version recently downloaded, it is marked just the same. However a track we've cut in the Koropuku Valley (APNP) has made it onto said LINZ-derived map.
You could be right @honara. A track line got confused for a stream at some point ... I pointed out the error to linz last year via their please report errors / ommissions address. No response though.
I'm pretty sure completely cocked up that sidle. From the marker 10m short of the falls at the end of Ethne Stream we headed south west in a downward sidle that was a bush bash through chest high fern and windfall. Eventually came out on a tint shingle "beach" where a small stream entered the Stillwater right at the end of the gorge. Was able to cross the Stillwater by a mix of forwarding and jumping the narrow but deep channels to get to the true left where we ran in to another random permalot marker in the bush.
I have been enjoying this thread, thanks to all those who have been sharing. Now I have to somehow get my hands on a copy of Moir's south. Definitely an area to consider for next time I can get away for a long walk. Cheers, Moh.
I'm just enjoying finding someone else who has been through the Overlander Ridge/Stream area and confirming that it wasn't just my terrible navigation that led to some tough days!
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